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Sole Traders and Workers Compensation in WA: Do You Need It?

Sole Traders and Workers Compensation in WA: Do You Need It?
Sole Traders and Workers Compensation in WA: Do You Need It?

As a sole trader, you wear many hats – owner, manager, marketer, and everything in between. Understanding your legal obligations, including when it comes to insurance protection, is crucial. Workers' compensation insurance is one area that might seem confusing. Are you eligible for it if you're the only person in the business? 

Let's break down the difference between sole traders and employees, plus explore why workers' compensation insurance may still be important for you.

Sole Traders and Workers Compensation in WA

In Australia, including Western Australia (WA), sole traders generally cannot obtain workers' compensation for themselves as they are considered self-employed individuals. Workers' compensation is typically designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Since sole traders are not considered employees but rather self-employed individuals, they are generally not covered by workers' compensation schemes.

Here are the two scenarios and how insurance can work in each case:

Scenario 1: Seeking Insurance Protection for Yourself

Since traditional workers' compensation doesn't apply to sole traders, consider the following alternative insurance options to protect yourself from financial hardship due to injury or illness:

  • Income Protection Insurance: Can provide a replacement income if you're unable to work for a period due to injury or illness.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: Can offer a lump-sum payout in the event of specific injuries, or in some cases, accidental death.
  • Trauma/Critical Illness Insurance: Can provide a lump-sum payment if you're diagnosed with a covered critical illness like cancer or a heart attack.
  • Total & Permanent Disability (TPD) Insurance: Can give a lump-sum payment if you are totally and permanently disabled and unable to work.

Scenario 2: Workers' Compensation Rules When Hiring Employees

If you hire employees (including contractors in some cases), it's crucial to understand your obligations:

  • Mandatory Coverage: In Australia, employers are legally required to provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. This includes sole traders who hire others.
  • State-Specific Regulations: Specific rules regarding who qualifies as an employee for workers' compensation purposes can vary slightly by state. Check the relevant authorities in your state for details.
  • Coverage Benefits: Workers' compensation typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs associated with work-related injuries or illnesses.

It is highly recommended to consult with an insurance broker or advisor to determine the most appropriate insurance coverage for your specific circumstances as a sole trader.

Click here to read in detail about when you need worker compensation insurance in WA or Australia wide. 

Vulnerabilities and Insurance Options Across Industries

Sole traders across different industries face unique risks. Here's a breakdown of some common vulnerabilities and the insurance options that can help mitigate them:

Construction and Trades

  • Vulnerability: High risk of physical injuries from accidents on site, tool malfunctions, etc.
  • Insurance Options: Income protection, personal accident, tool insurance, public liability are essential.

Professional Services (Consultants, Accountants, etc.)

  • Vulnerability: Lawsuits arising from errors, omissions, or negligence in the advice provided.
  • Insurance Options: Professional indemnity insurance is crucial, along with public liability.

Retail and E-commerce

  • Vulnerability: Product defects causing injury, shopfront damage, theft or cyber attacks (for online stores).
  • Insurance Options: Product liability, public liability, property insurance, and consider cyber insurance for e-commerce businesses.

Remember this is just a starting point! The best insurance strategy for a sole trader is tailored to their specific industry, business activities, and the level of risk they're comfortable with. Consulting with an insurance broker or advisor is always a smart move.

If you are a sole trader and thinking about getting insured, just fill out this form to get a free quote that suits your needs. 

Finding the Right Insurance as a Sole Trader (WA)

The insurance landscape can be confusing, especially for sole traders. The key to finding the right protection is understanding the unique risks your business faces. Here's how to approach it:

Assess Your Risks

Think about:

  • The nature of your work (physical vs. office-based)
  • Your reliance on expensive equipment or tools
  • Your level of interaction with clients and the public
  • Potential product liability risks

Prioritise Coverage

Income protection insurance (often called self employed income protection insurance) is often the most crucial type of coverage for sole traders. However, don't overlook other essential policies like public liability or professional indemnity, depending on your business.

Consult a Specialist Broker

An insurance broker specialising in sole traders insurance can provide invaluable guidance. They understand the specific risks sole traders face and can help you compare policies from various insurers to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

The Process of Becoming a Sole Trader

To become a sole trader in Australia is relatively straightforward. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Establish Your Brand:  Your business name is the foundation of your identity. Choose something memorable, reflective of your offerings, and check its availability on ASIC's website.
  2. Get Your Official ID: An Australian Business Number (ABN) is your business's passport for tax and legal dealings. Secure yours easily through the Australian Business Register (ABR).
  3. Know Your Tax Rules: Stay on top of your financial game! Understand income tax, GST (if it applies to your business), and how to keep accurate records. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website will be your best friend.

The Importance of Insurance

While starting your business is exciting, don't forget about insurance protection.  Even as a sole trader, you could face financial hardship due to injury, illness, property damage, or lawsuits.  Consider insurance as a crucial part of your business setup, alongside registering your name and obtaining an ABN.

Don't let an unexpected event derail your hard work as a sole trader.  Get the peace of mind that comes with the right insurance protection. 

Contact Connect Business Insurance today for a personalised assessment

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